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2024 Australian Grand Prix – What the Drivers are Saying after the Race – Part 2

The trip to Albert Park saw the dominant run of Max Verstappen and Oracle Red Bull Racing come to an end, with Carlos Sainz Jr. claiming his and Scuderia Ferrari’s first victory of the 2024 FIA Formula 1 World Championship season.

Just two weeks after appendicitis that ruled him out of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, Sainz was in sublime form and was in a class of his own throughout the afternoon in Melbourne, and he led home a Ferrari one-two ahead of Charles Leclerc.

It was also a good day for the McLaren F1 Team as Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri finished third and fourth, while the sole Red Bull at the chequered flag, Sergio Perez, was a distant fifth.

There was also drama late on as George Russell crashed out, with Fernando Alonso being handed a penalty for braking erratically that the stewards deemed was the reason the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team driver hit the barriers.

In part two, here is what those who missed out on points in Albert Park had to say about their days in the Australian sunshine.

#23 – Alexander Albon – Williams Racing

“Our early pit stops were disguising our lack of race pace today; we tried to stay in the race by pitting early and getting back track position but ultimately the pace of our competitors was too strong. Every time I tried to match the pace with the cars around me, I would grain and when I could do my own race, I was three and a half tenths off the pace.

“We had a lot of graining and were fighting the car everywhere, so we need to have a good look at why. With three of the top teams retiring, it’s frustrating that we couldn’t capitalise on this and our rivals did, but it shows our pace wasn’t quick enough to still be sitting outside the points.

“It’s been a tough weekend for us at Williams but we’ve pulled through quite well and really come together as a team. Everyone at the track has really dug deep so I can only thank them for their hard work and dedication and of course to Logan for being a true team player.

“Truthfully, I’m quite happy with my performance considering the circumstances but we’re going to continue to rally as a team and hopefully come back fighting in Japan.”

#3 – Daniel Ricciardo – Visa CashApp RB

“After last night, I let go of the frustration and put it aside coming into the race. I tried to get the most out of today and there were some good stints in there. A lot of drivers pitted early like me, but starting from the back of the grid, we had to try something.

“I think in the first stint on the hard compound I lost a little bit of time as the graining came up pretty soon with the VSC, but the second one was definitely more competitive. I was able to drive on a low 1:21 as a lap time before we got some blue flags, so there were certainly some good and encouraging moments throughout the race.

“Nevertheless, I think we’re still missing some things as sometimes I feel like and I’m not carrying enough speed in some corners. During the race, I marked some points that are good for gathering data and will help us continue understanding our car. Obviously, I would have loved to have a better weekend and start to the season, especially after the preparation I had coming into it.

“However, there’s no panic, we continue keeping our eyes on the prize and working together. I feel like the car itself has not really changed from last year, it’s an update but the characteristics are very similar. There’s some confidence in that and I don’t think we have to change everything, so we’ll find something in one of the next weekends to continue the positive performance trend.”

#10 – Pierre Gasly – BWT Alpine F1 Team

“There is no satisfaction to take from today’s result as finishing outside of the points is never where we intend to finish races. We made some progress, though, and we tried to maximise what we had and I’d say we did that today.

“I tried my best inside the car, it was a difficult race at times, but we stuck with it right to the end. We will all continue our collective hard work. We have some parts coming soon as we keep closing the gap to those ahead of us.

“It’s been a busy week in Australia and I already look forward to racing in Suzuka, one of my favourites on the Formula 1 calendar.”

Pierre Gasly and Alpine continue to struggle in 2024 and remain pointless after three races – Credit: BWT Alpine F1 Team

#77 – Valtteri Bottas – Kick Sauber F1 Team

“It’s never great to see a good race come to nothing: it’s frustrating as, until the pit stop, things were going really well. We had a good start, most importantly we had strong pace and we should have got points.

“It’s obvious that we still have to work to solve the issues affecting us: what we have done so far has reduced the incidence a lot, but the risk is still there – as we have seen today. There’s an element of bad luck there, and there’s nothing the pit crew could have done differently, it’s a technical issue that needs to be solved.

“We can still find some positives – our performance is improving, we have made a step forward with the upgrades the team has brought and we should have been in the points. We were fighting with Fernando in the opening stages, and I believe P8 or P9 would have been within reach. We keep working hard: there will be more upgrades coming soon and I think we can make an even bigger step in Japan.” 

#24 – Zhou Guanyu – Kick Sauber F1 Team

“This weekend was a difficult one. Starting from the pit lane is always tricky, and being stuck in a DRS train made it difficult for me to overtake. There were some points up for grabs for the team today, but, unfortunately, we did not manage to be up there, fighting for them.

“During my second pit stop, I experienced an issue, outside of my control, related to my gearbox – when I called for the gear, the car stalled which cost me plenty of time.

“Overall, our race pace continued to look quite strong and competitive with the teams around us. It’s been a lost opportunity, but as a team, we’ll continue our work to bounce back in Suzuka.” 

#31 – Esteban Ocon – BWT Alpine F1 Team

“It was an unfortunate race today, as we had to make an extra stop to remove a tear-off stuck in the rear brake duct. Before the pit-stop I was running in a group with Alex [Albon] and Kevin [Magnussen], and in front of Nico [Hülkenberg].

“Without that extra stop, we were probably in with a chance of scoring points looking at how the race unfolded. Today, and this weekend in general, the car felt a bit better and shows that we’re making some progress. We need to take it step-by-step and keep pushing ahead of Japan, which is a race I’m really looking forward to, as it’s one of my favourite tracks and the fans there make it extra special.”

Esteban Ocon was forced to pit a third time after a tear-off lodged itself in his brake duct – Credit: BWT Alpine F1 Team

#63 – George Russell – Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team

“I’m OK after the accident fortunately. I don’t really know how to explain what happened. I was half-a-second behind Fernando (Alonso) 100 metres before the corner and then suddenly he came back towards me extremely quickly.

“It was clear that he braked earlier than he had done on previous laps and then got back on the throttle. I wasn’t expecting that, and it caught me by surprise. I hit the wall and had a dramatic few seconds after that.

“It was a disappointing end to a difficult race. Our pace wasn’t where we wanted it to be. We showed spells of good lap times but ultimately we’ve got work to do to catch those ahead. We will be focused on how we can make improvements ahead of Japan in two weeks’ time.”

#44 – Lewis Hamilton – Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team

“My race was going OK up until the point we suffered the Power Unit failure. It’s quite tough to overtake here but we had gained some positions early on with the Soft tyre. It was unfortunate that we had to retire as there was still a long way to go. I was beginning to press on, but the Power Unit just stopped. These things happen and I know we will bounce back.

“We will also improve the car as the season goes on. We have done so in previous years, and I am confident we will do so again. It is tough that we are not as competitive as we would like at the moment, but we will keep working hard.

“I am focused on doing that with the team. In the short term, I expect we will still find it difficult to challenge further up but we will see what we can do in the medium term.”

#1 – Max Verstappen – Oracle Red Bull Racing

“It is unfortunate about what happened today, but we can see so far in the data that as soon as the lights went off the right rear brake just stuck on and locked. It was basically like driving with the hand brake on so, of course, the temperature just kept on increasing and then I could see smoke appear as it had caught fire.

“This at the time was very confusing as the car was really weird to drive in some corners. At turn three, I braked and lost the rear end of the car; it felt weird on the rear axle, then on turn six and seven it snapped on me. The Team will investigate and we will see if there are any answers but there are some things you can’t control.

“It’s a shame as the car felt really good in the laps to the grid, but you cannot control these issues and these things happen. Of course, I am disappointed we didn’t finish the race as we had a good shot at winning and the car has been improving throughout the weekend.

“We knew a day like could come at some point so we need to be proud that we have had a great run with nine races in a row and we can come back stronger for Suzuka.”

Max Verstappen led lap one but retired on lap three – Credit: Sam Bagnall / LAT Images


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